Liz Wallace, reared in California, of Maidu/Washoe/Navajo culture began making jewelry as a child. Early on, a book on art nouveau jewelry grabbed her attention, and ever afterwards she wanted to be a jeweler.
Liz moved to Santa Fe thirteen years ago and her early jewelry, in a contemporary style, “did not catch on,” she told me. Then, she discovered turquoise. Her father, an accomplished, lapidarist, showed Liz how to cut and polish the stone, and Liz began making beautiful pins featuring natural, gem-grade turquoise. Over the years, her repertoire has grown to an ever wider range of silver and turquoise forms. She is particularly drawn to images of butterflies, katydids, dragonflies, and spiders and honors this fascination by creating handmade jewelry using them as her subjects.
Liz and I discuss her elegant all-#8 turquoise dragonfly.
A highlight of Liz Wallace’s jewelry is its continual experimentation with new forms and with new jewelry manufacturing techniques. Examples include a plique a jour dragonfly pin that harkens back to 19th century art nouveau jewelry. Liz also learned the technique of “raising” to convert a flat sheet of silver into a cup-shape from which she creates miniature silver bowls. She comments, “the more techniques I can control, the wider the range of jewelry I can make.” The resulting jewelry is fused with traditional American Indian elements but carried into a much more contemporary realm. In fact, Liz's work is so good that she's now a 2009 Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) Fellowship award winner. The Fellowship program is a highly competitive process with over a thousand applications received each year. Liz is one of only five artists to receive the 2009 Fellowship. Hooray Liz!
I hope my presentation of Liz Wallace’s jewelry gives you a taste of her wide-ranging creativity..
- Liz shows me a distinctive and dramatic turquoise and silver katydid pin of rare Royston turquoise.